Moran Indus., Inc. v. Higdon, No. 07 C 6092, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill., Jul. 26, 2008) (Guzman, J.).
Judge Guzman held that the Court had personal jurisdiction over the defendants, but dismissed plaintiff’s trademark and breach of contract case for improper venue. Defendants, various franchisees of plaintiff, were all residents of and operated their franchises in various combinations of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Each relevant franchise agreement had a forum selection clause consenting to jurisdiction in the Northern District. But the Court held that the clause was permissive, allowing defendants to challenge personal jurisdiction. While defendants were not Illinois residents, their numerous contacts with plaintiff — sending plaintiff royalty payments and reports to Illinois and attending training in Illinois, among others — created personal jurisdiction.
While defendants were subject to personal jurisdiction in Illinois, the Court held that the Northern District was not the proper venue. A substantial part of the harm alleged occurred not in Illinois, but in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Those were the states where defendants allegedly failed to make payments, not Illinois. The Courts, therefore, dismissed the case.